AGGRESSION ON AFGHANISTAN 431
support to Kuhandil Khan in case of Persian aggression.
Even in the matter of presents, which are esteemed by-
oriental potentates not merely for their value but as adding
to the dignity of the recipient in the eyes of his Court,
the Mission was furnished scantily and compared most un-
favourably with that of Elphinstone, which had bestowed
splendid gifts on Shah Shuja. Consequently, through no
fault of his own, Burnes failed. Kaye justly denounces
the dishonest mutilation of despatches by which Burnes is
made to appear responsible for the failure of the mission.
In a recent novel, too, written to bring out the great
achievement of Eldred Pottinger, Burnes is most unfairly
made to serve as a dark background to the hero. As Kaye
puts it, " Had Burnes been left to obey the dictates of
his own reason and to use the light of his own experience,
he would have conciliated both the Candahar Sirdars
and the Caubul Ameer, and raised up an effective bulwark
in Afghanistan against Persian invasion and Russian
intrigue."1 It remains to add that Sir John McNeilTs
views on the question were practically identical.
The Promises of Vitkavich.—Dost Mohamed, realizing
that the British Government was unwilling to make
reasonable proposals to him, now turned to Vitkavich,
who promised Russian support and agreed, among other
things, that Russian assistance should be given to the
Shah in his campaign against Herat. His mission,
however, like that of Burnes, was a failure, and in the
end he was disowned by the Russian Government and
disappeared from the scene.2 Not content to rely
on vague Russian .support, Dost Mohamed ultimately
strengthened his hands by making a treaty with Mohamed
Shah against Kamran Mirza ;8 thus through British
ineptitude he was forced into taking a step most dis-
advantageous to British policy.
The Second Siege of Herat, 1837-1838.—In 1836 the
Shah wasted the whole season in ineffectual operations
1 Op. «V. i. 311.
2 He committed suicide. For the facts about Vitkavich vide England and Russia
in the East, p. 152.
8 In Travels and Journals preserved in the Bombay Secretariat, there is a delightful
account of the Afghan embassy to Mohamed Shah, written by the ambassador, who was
of Persian origin.